Did you know that banana bread became popular with the rise of baking powder and baking soda as leavening agents?
Instead of using yeast or sour milk and leaving the dough to rise before putting it in the oven, baking powder can cut the preparation time in half.
That’s quite impressive, but what happens if you have no baking powder?
In this article, we’ll answer this question and share the recipe for making banana bread without baking powder. Plus, we’ll also take a look at the possible alternatives to consider.
Well, a lot of banana bread recipes out there will call for baking powder or an alternative. The main point of using baking powder is to raise the batter and get that fluffy texture that people love.
How does that work?
In the simplest terms, baking powder is a leavening agent made of sodium bicarbonate, an acidic component like cream of tartar, and some cornstarch.
Since sodium bicarbonate is a base, it reacts with the acidic portion and produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles in the batter. When baked, these bubbles help the dough rise and expand.
The short answer is yes. You can still prepare soft and fluffy banana bread without using baking powder.
If you don’t have baking powder, you have a few options, like baking soda plus a weak acid, yeast, or self-rising flour.
Alternatively, you can try using a dairy product with loads of whisking.
If you’re halfway through your banana bread recipe and find out that you don’t have baking powder or its alternatives, we’re here to save the day.
In this recipe, we put a strong emphasis on mixing sugar and butter well before adding other ingredients to substitute for the baking powder.
The main principle here is that creaming those two ingredients creates air bubbles, which can be considered mechanical leavening.
This method might not be as good as using both the creaming technique and baking powder, but it can save you in a pinch.
- Two eggs
- Half a cup of softened butter
- Four overripe and mashed bananas
- Half a cup of white granulated sugar
- Half a cup of brown sugar
- One teaspoon of vanilla
- A quarter teaspoon of salt
- One and a half cups of sifted flour
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
Once you have the ingredients ready, jump into the steps below.
First things first, preheat the oven to 350°F. Then you can start greasing your baking pan.
In a bowl, mix the sugar with the butter. Use a whisk to mix for three to five minutes.
Remember that the goal is to introduce air into the batter to elevate it instead of the baking powder. So, make sure to give the batter some extra whisking to produce that fluffiness you’re after!
Add the eggs and vanilla to the mix and keep stirring well until you achieve a homogenous batter. Then, you can gradually pour in the flour, cinnamon, and salt.
This is also the step where you can add any extras to your recipes. So, if you want chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruits in your banana bread, now is the time to add them to the batter.
Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and put it in the oven. It’ll take somewhat between 40 to 60 minutes.
However, you can always use the toothpick test to see if it’s ready. Just insert a toothpick at the center of the banana cake; if it comes out clean, the loaf is ready to go.
Once your loaf is done baking, allow it to cool on a rack. Then you can slice and serve with maple syrup or butter.
Baking powder is an ingredient that affects the texture of banana bread. While the alternatives can replicate the texture, some of them can alter the taste.
Let’s take a closer look.
You can replace the baking powder with yeast in a banana bread recipe, and a ratio of 1:1 would be convenient. You just need to mix the yeast with a splash of water to activate it before adding it to the batter.
The downside of this method is that it takes away the “quickbread” characteristic of banana bread.
Yeast needs some time to react with sugar before baking to expand the dough. This means that you need to leave the batter for at least an hour (preferably a couple of hours) at a warm place before you bake.
Just keep in mind that you’ll also get the distinct flavor and aroma of fermentation when the yeast breaks down the starch.
A lot of people mistake baking soda and powder. While they’re quite similar, there are some differences to consider.
They’re both made of the same core substance, sodium bicarbonate.
However, baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate without the acidic portion. So, it needs an external acidic ingredient to activate it to release the carbon dioxide from the acid-base reaction.
In baking recipes, this might be yogurt, buttermilk, or molasses.
In the case of banana bread, you use a mixture of a quarter teaspoon of baking soda with a half cup of buttermilk to substitute for one teaspoon of baking powder.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to reduce liquid ingredients a bit in this recipe because you’re adding an extra liquid ingredient.
You can also use molasses instead of buttermilk to activate baking soda.
Just mix a quarter of a cup of molasses with a quarter teaspoon of baking soda as a replacement for one teaspoon of baking powder.
In this case, you might need to reduce the amount of sugar added to the recipe.
Baking powder is just baking soda mixed with cream of tartar and a pinch of cornstarch. So, this alternative is pretty much DIY baking powder.
You’ll need to mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of cream of tartar to substitute one teaspoon of baking powder.
You can add half a teaspoon of cornstarch to the mixture if you’d like, but it’s not necessary.
You use a mixture of yogurt and baking soda to substitute for baking powder.
However, you don’t mix them. Instead, you add yogurt to the liquid ingredients and baking soda to the dry ingredients.
We recommend a quarter teaspoon of baking soda and a half cup of plain yogurt to replace one teaspoon of baking powder. Note that you can’t use flavored yogurt here.
Self-rising flour comes with baking powder and some salt. This means that it has the leavening agent right in the package.
In this case, you’ll be using self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour in your recipe, which could result in a noticeable tang. That’s because self-rising flour has a salty taste compared to all-purpose flour.
Banana bread is a versatile recipe that can take on plenty of tweaks to accommodate the available ingredients. So, even if you don’t have any baking powder at home, there are still a few ways to make banana bread without it.
For one, you can opt to use a self-rising flour mixture, which already contains baking powder. You can also use yeast which provides a deep taste but takes longer.
Another possibility is to use a combination of baking soda and a weak acid like yogurt, buttermilk, or molasses.
Finally, you can even use no alternative to baking powder at all and just rely on creaming sugar and butter, but you should expect denser banana bread.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.